Being Muslims: A Cultural History of Women of Color in American Islam

September 19, 2017 @ 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Hatcher Gallery
913 S University Ave
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Sylvia Chan-Malik

Rutgers University

Sylvia Chan-Malik offers a previously untold story of Islam in the United States that foregrounds the voices, experiences, and images of women of color in the United States from the early twentieth century to the present. Until the late 1960s, the majority of Muslim women in the U.S.—as well as almost all U.S. Muslim women who appeared in the American press or popular culture, were African American. Thus, she argues that lives and labors of African American Muslim women have—and continue to—forcefully shaped the meanings and presence of American Islam, and are critical to approaching issues confronting Muslim women in the contemporary U.S. Focusing on the experiences of African American women in the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam in 1920s Chicago, Chan-Malikexplores how U.S. Muslim women’s identities have been consistently forged against commonsense notions of racial, gendered, and religious belonging and citizenship, and argues that desires for gender and racial justice deeply inform U.S. women’s engagements with Islam.